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Demonstration Song (1882)

The following poem was distributed amongst the crowd at the Working Men's, Association Demonsration on Monday last :--

O comrades bring your banners.
And march in rank and file,
And wake the air with echoes
In true Australian style.
What though we love the shamrock.
Or Scotland's heather spray.
Or the blushing rose of England,
Our cheers shall blend to-day.

For here in bright Australia,
Where waves the wattle-gold,
We cherish not the hatred
That stung our sires of old;
But all united mingle,
The Saxon and the Celt,
Without the gall and anger
Onr stubborn fathers felt.

What is our cause, and why do we unite ?
Our cause is just ; thus unity is right.
Eight hours to work in labor's busy mart
With supple muscle and with buoyant heart ;
Eight hours to recreation, calm, refined,
To sooth the frame and elevate the mind ;
Eight hours to sleep--in heaven's slumbers blest--
We work, we play, end reap reward in rest.
Our cause is just, for who will dare to say
It brings one wrong, or wins a selfish way ;
And if no wrong arise, then it shall be
Another step in mankind's liberty.
Britannia thro' expanding ages gave
Her generous laws and freedom to the slave.
Yea, one by one her liberties were sown
Deep in her soil and gloriously have grown.
That spirit lives 'neath Australasian skies,
With freshened impulse, liberal and wise ;
For broadened Freedom springs on every hand,
The strength, the joy, the pride of all the land ;
And thus we join to add one freedom more
To Labor's glory than it had before :
No narrow view, expedient for to-day,
But joy to give when we have passed away.
Our Cause is just, let fervency incite
Each swelling heart to strive for honest right.
Oh, mark the wretch who slaves his life away !
Who robs the night to make a longer day,
With sunken eyes,and weary, withered face,
Where restless Greed has has left her careworn trace ;
With feeble form, an old man ere is prime,
He struggle on, makes industry a crime ;
His craven spirit fawns and truckles down
Before an avaricious master's frown ;
His soul is dead, is independence gone.
And blind to shame he meanly struggles on.
No more for him the lovely flowers grow,
The wild birds sing, or whispering breezes blow ;
No wish has he tread the beauteous hills,
Or catch an inf'rence from the rippling rills ;
And blind is he where nature's beauties team,
Untouched, unmoved by evaning's pensive dream.
In life he has no elevated aim,
In death he leaves nodaarly honoured name ;
A curse--a curse to all his fellow-men
He lives ; he dies, and is forgotten then.
But turn again, another picture see,
Where reigns content and manly liberty :--
A worthy son in labor's honest pride,
True type is he of manhood dignified.
His strong limbs toil, his merry laughter rings
And shows his heart, because from there it springs.
No recreant motive touch his sturdy soul.
He owns no sway but Honor's bright control,
Not for himself, but for the good of all.
He shapes his course, and answers Duty's call.
He seeks not strife where no good comes of strife ;
Nor grasps at gold by wearing out his life.
No temper dulled by anxions plodding day?.
But, every action bright with pleasant love,
He lives his life and waits reward above.
Firm by his principles when they are right,
He shrinks not from the power of wealthy might.
His influence lives when he has fall'n to sleep ;
He sows the corn another age will reap.
Blest is the land that owns such sons as these ;
Her power will grow, her liberties increase.
Our cause is right--then to our League success
In righting wrongs where thoughtless wrongs oppress.
Yes, honor to our League, long may it stand
A power for good throughout our sunbright land.
Let all united work a noble plan
To elevate the better part of man ;
Let widened scope expand our energy.
And bend our thoughts to sainted Charity.
The orphan's tears, the widow's sobbing prayers,
The humblest homes, the poorest toiler's cares ;
These are our charge, to us by Heaven assigned,
To help and cheer the sad of human kind.
O comrades, then, what noble parts are thine !
Stand by your colors--cowards but resign.
Bright breaks the spring-time morning
On demonstration day,
And through the gleaming city.
The League men march away ;
With feats of strength and fleetness,
Where youth with youth may vie,
And freaks of soul-born pleasure

The gladsome momente fly.
Yet must we all remember,
"Midst struggles and 'midst bliss.
That now, and now for ever,
Our motto shall he this :
Eight hours for manly labor,
Eight hours for balmy sleep,
Eight hours for recreation,
Our triple eight we keep.

Kent Town, August, 1882.


From the South Australian newspaper the Evening Journal Thursday 4 September Friday 1 September 1882, p. 3.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory